I remember being in elementary school and some of my friends were sharing where they were born. As they exchanged hospital names, one friend looked over to me, shyly listening to the conversation. She asked me which hospital I was born at, to which I replied, “I was born in the bathtub, at home.” I can remember exactly what happened the moment the last word rolled off my tongue. The faces of my friends went from shocked to confused to smiling and laughing. One of my friends had quickly put it together. “Wait! Your mom was taking a bath and you were accidentally born?!” I imagine they pictured a mom getting in the tub to take a relaxing bath and then leaving the tub with a brand new baby, accidentally? I smiled and replied, “It wasn’t an accident.” We laughed and our second grade attention spans kicked in and the conversation quickly changed to something else!
I didn’t think much of the situation at the time, but I do remember realizing that the way I was welcomed into the world was different, or maybe a bit odd to some. As I grew up I was a little more prepared when pulled into a conversation about being born. “My parents wanted to have me at home, so I was born in our bathtub.” Most of my friends ended up thinking it was weird, but in a cool way (or at least that is what I told myself!) My birth story ended up being a pretty good fun fact throughout college when faced with the instructions to “share something cool/different/unknown about yourself” in a group setting.
It wasn’t until I got into chiropractic school, while learning about the human body and all of its magnificence that I really became enthralled with the birth process. From conception, through pregnancy, to labor and a brand new life! Along with the perfectly timed processes that lead up to birth, my eyes were also opened to how birth in general is viewed in America. It seems as though birth is widely thought of as a medical procedure, a painful experience that we try to suppress, dull down, drug up and hide within the white walls of a hospital. It is a process that we are trained to just want to be over with so we can enjoy a lifetime of love and joy with our new little ones.
Birth is a beautiful, natural process that can be celebrated! An intricate process that the female body was designed to carry out. Now don’t get me wrong, the advancement of technology and the options available to birthing women is amazing and extremely necessary in some situations and has no doubt saved many lives! But these advancements can also take us further and further away from our roots, our instincts, our power. In a lot of ways we have been encouraged to forget about the power, strength and beauty that is birth, and instead we are inundated with fear instead of trust.
Birth is such an individualized and personal process, a time to really trust your own instincts and CHOOSE how you want to welcome your baby into the world. Too often I hear personal stories of women who are forcefully dissuaded from having the birth they want because it doesn’t fit into a doctor’s schedule. Or women who had no idea that they had options and choices in creating a birth that could be calm, beautiful and powerful. Or women who are encouraged to have one small intervention, without having any knowledge that one intervention more often than not leads to the next. It saddens me that there are women having to battle just to have their birth, their way. But, it also brings me so much joy that there are more and more women up for the battle. More and more women are educating themselves about birth and their options. More and more women are standing their ground because this sacred experience is just too precious not to.
Dr. Morgan Oberstein is a Webster technique certified family chiropractor who owns and operates Connection Cafe Chiropractic in Union City, CA.